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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Mama Mabel Stokes.
    • Just how much did she really care about her neighborhood, or even her family? She's remembered by Cottonmouth as violent and ruthless, but by Shades as someone who genuinely looked out for her neighborhood and had a particular soft-spot for victims of domestic and especially sexual abuse. And as it turns out, when Pistol Pete was abusing Mariah, Mabel's response was to send the latter off to a boarding school to keep her out of his reach (which Mariah cites, in the present, as the reason why Mabel chose to neglect Cottonmouth's musical talents in favor of giving Mariah the better education). She didn't seem to have any problem continuing to work with Pete up to the point when he started making deals behind her back, and despite praising a young Cottonmouth for his honesty, she then forced him to kill Pete when Pete was the only person to treat Cottonmouth like he had potential beyond just some street thug.
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    • Did Mama Mabel ever really care about the fact that her brother-in-law was sexually abusing her granddaughter? Or did she at least not care enough because Pete was still useful as a business partner up until he started to make deals behind her back?
      • In season 2, we learn that Mama Mabel forced Mariah to go through with giving birth to Tilda and wouldn't let her have an abortion, regardless of the pain and psychological destruction it wrought on Mariah. Clearly, Mama Mabel only used Mariah's rape as an excuse to kill Pete. She was just angry that Pete was betraying the family. Otherwise, why not kill him after the first time?
  • Anvilicious:
    • In the first season, not an episode goes by without the characters launching into at least one lengthy and highly philosophical discussion about the ideal of Harlem and the roots and nature of African-American culture, such as the scene in Pop's where Luke and Pop just happen to be discussing Harlem Renaissance authors rather than, say, how the Knicks are doing. Also, if you didn't know a black man in a hoodie can be a hero before watching the show, well, the show is more than happy to tell. There are some subtle exchanges to bring the point home further. When Method Man exchanges his hoodie for Luke's bullet-ridden one, he remarks (about being saved by Luke), "You ever see anything like that?" Another hostage remarks, "Harlem, baby, Harlem," as the camera focuses on the bullet holes in the hoodie. The second season dialed it back a great deal. Racial issues are still discussed, but not nearly as on-the-nose.
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    • The show makes no attempt to steer away from relevant issues that the black community faces, especially considering the increased awareness and discussions of racism within the US when the show debuted, and it actually received high praise for its willingness to engage such issues head-on. Furthermore, Luke's character has been connected to the struggles of African-Americans against systematic racism so not engaging with those issues would simply be untrue to the character.
    • Some have complained that the show's frequent messages about black pride and the importance of a bulletproof black man are on the nose, but considering that the black community's struggles are so prominent in the political scene of The New '10s, a more reserved example would surely have fallen short of the mark.
    • Season 2 comes with a pretty heavy-handed theme: crime does not pay. Even rising to the top of the criminal underworld comes with misery, from destroyed personal relationships and constantly looking over your shoulder. All of the major villains are worse off by the end of the season; Mariah falls from grace both as a politician and crime lord, and is sent to prison and then later fatally poisoned by her own daughter. Bushmaster never gets his revenge on Mariah and almost all of his family is dead and his body is broken beyond repair, and he's forced to flee the country because he's wanted by the cops. Shades finally faces the music for his crimes after he sticks by Mariah's side and kills Comanche, someone whom he actually loved and was working to get them both out the gangster lifestyle. Not to mention the countless underlings killed and shady businessmen ruined by their shady dealings or killed themselves.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
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    • For Season 2, Cheo Hodari Coker went to great lengths to avoid the sorts of issues that season 1 had. Pretty much everything about Bushmaster is a response to these criticisms, namely, giving us a villain that can fight Luke one-on-one without mechanical aids.
    • After many fans were just plain confused at the show bending over backwards to try to make Scarfe sympathetic in his dying hours, Season 2 digs a lot deeper into the problems the exposure of his corruption caused, with his name being mud in the station.
    • The second season also tones down the show's moralizing and gives Luke actual character flaws, namely arrogance when the fame goes to his head and a temper that causes Claire to leave him.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Diamondback. Some fans love the Large Ham performance and his personal connection to Luke that makes for a more emotional climax, while others just find him silly and wish Cottonmouth had stayed for the whole season. And others still think his character wasn't really foreshadowed beyond his name, with Luke making no reference to him, and as such, this makes the show's writing clumsily try to catch the audience up on who he is. Others would've preferred the focus instead shifted to Mariah and/or Shades, though that thankfully is what ends up happening in season 2.
  • Broken Base:
    • Black viewers are split on the show's politics. There's a contingent who feel that the show strongly represents historic black heroes and African American culture and is also a good integration of modern black politics into the MCU. Others have criticized the show for "respectability politics", which can be summarized as criticizing other black people for behaving in ways other ethnicities don't respect. Still others argue that the show's message is agreeable but painfully overdone, while others see that as the Anvil of the Story.
    • Some fans are split if whatever or not it was an good idea to have Alfre Woodard play two different roles in the MCU, since she appeared previously in the MCU as Miriam Sharpe in Captain America: Civil War before her appearance as Mariah Dillard, there are some fans that are fine with this, since it's unlikely that Mariah and Miriam would ever have met anyway, and this isn't the first time an actor in the MCU has ever played more than one role,note  while others see this as an wasted opportunity, feeling that this would've been the perfect way to connect the Netflix shows with the movies, and that by having her be the same character from Civil War could have been a factor in her villany after losing her son in the aftermath of the battle against Ultron (though the show actually takes place before the film).
    • Some Jessica Jones (2015) fans aren't happy about the show's treatment of her. Pop dismisses her as Luke's "rebound girl" in the first episode, which he doesn't debate, and then, aside from Mariah mentioning Kilgrave's death during her rally at Harlem's Paradise and a couple of Claire's conversations with Luke, Jessica is hardly ever referenced again. Others are fine with it, saying it's perfectly logical that Jessica would be the last thing on Luke's mind after some of the stuff she caused him to go through (Reva's death, him falling under Kilgrave's control, her shooting him point-blank in the head with a shotgun to break said control).
  • Can't Un-Hear It: Mike Colter as Luke Cage.
  • Catharsis Factor: Many viewers found Mariah's death in the finale very satisfying after she ordered the Rum Punch Massacre in "The Main Ingredient".
  • Continuity Lockout:
    • Since Luke was introduced on Jessica Jones (2015), the first season of that show is almost required viewing to understand references (Reva's death, the shotgun injuries, etc.)
    • Season 2 requires having watched The Defenders, due to Luke getting out of jail and Misty losing her arm in that show, as well as the cameos from Foggy Nelson, Colleen Wing and Danny Rand.
  • Ending Fatigue:
    • The general consensus from the critics and fans seems to be that the show starts off incredibly strong, but begins to lag during the final few episodes. In particular, it's noted that the first seven episodes are incredibly strong in characterization and narrative flow, only to fall apart once Cottonmouth dies.
    • One of the major complaints about Diamondback is that he's able to escape time and time again despite having no real reason to actually do so. He's not superhuman, he's not a trained elite warrior, he's not an ultra-charismatic leader. But from episode 7 onward, the entire show revolves around stopping him and, despite everyone hating him, he keeps the upper hand until the final battle. It takes until the twelfth episode for him to pull another game changing secret weapon to show why he's the main threat and he needed Plot Armor to use it (keeping Domingo's soldiers off when they had him dead to rights to get his Powered Armor.)
    • Season 2 likewise peaks with the climax of the ninth episode, where Luke and Misty take down Bushmaster and his crew in a no-holds-barred battle, Mariah and Tilda have a final falling out, Luke reconciles with his father and just generally all the big emotional punches are thrown. After all that, there's really not that much left for the last four episodes but to see how long Mariah can keep being a Karma Houdini.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Rafael Scarfe, for being a great foil to Misty Knight, as well as being incredibly sassy. Sadly, he's also a Dirty Cop, but that just gives him excuse to sass Cottonmouth as well.
    • Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes. Audiences were outraged when he died only halfway into the first season, and Diamondback, who took his spot as Big Bad, is widely regarded as inferior.
    • Shades is also very popular with fans, largely to his Magnificent Bastard tendencies and Theo Rossi's incredibly smooth performance. Made even better that he actually manages to survive the entire season.
  • Escapist Character: Luke, a bulletproof black man armed with Super Strength, is an especially powerful figure, particularly in the time the show was created, given a number of highly publicized shooting deaths of black men that gained national attention around that time.
  • Even Better Sequel: Common consensus is that season 2 is a significant improvement over season 1, keeping Mariah and Bushmaster around the entire season, and being slightly less focused on Luke.
  • Evil Is Cool: Quite a few.
    • Cornell Stokes, the Wicked Cultured King of Harlem. Mahershala Ali's performance oozes style.
    • Shades, Harlem's resident Magnificent Bastard who's fully capable of handling himself in a fight, too.
    • Bushmaster is no slouch in this department either, with some people favorably comparing him to Erik Killmonger.
    • Alfre Woodard's performance as Mariah Dillard carries a deranged sort of charisma, backed up by the fact she's willing to get shockingly brutal at times. While she can't stack up to Shades' cleverness, Bushmaster's ass-kicking combat, or even Cottonmouth's Wicked Cultured methods and style, Mariah proves one of the most shockingly resilient and disturbing villains on the show.
    • Diamondback, who's over the top personality and air of danger always let's you know something crazy is gonna happen almost every minute he's onscreen.
  • Foe Yay:
    • Most obvious between Misty and Luke, even if they're technically on the same side - just have different approaches on tackling crime. Hell, they had a one-night stand on the first episode, which Luke gleefully references as he tells her that she "knows where his apartment is" when attempting to take him in for questioning.
    • Also very apparent in Luke's face-to-face interactions with Mariah. In season 1, when he crosses paths with her outside her brownstone while on his morning jog, and she tells him "Who you' callin a spinster? I'd wear your narrow ass out", and later remarks that he must have a woman with "his fine ass". In season 2 she acts seductively at times when trying to get Luke to squirm.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • The show invokes numerous black historical figures, often without any explanation.
    • When Mariah criticizes Cottonmouth having Zip and his other goons hand out flyers, Cottonmouth justifies his actions by saying "They pass out flyers, get contributions, tributes. (Jamaican accent) Just like in Jamaica, you know?" Politics and gangs are intertwined so much in Jamaica that it's not uncommon to see goons who were in a shootout one day passing out fliers the next day. It also somewhat foreshadows Bushmaster's introduction in season 2, since the Stokes' traveled down to Kingston to kill Bushmaster's mother, while Bushmaster himself fell in with the Yardies.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In "Code of the Streets", Pop mentions he had a son he lost connection with, and how over the years, he fears he could have sat down in his chair and he never would have known. It's one of the reasons he tries to play surrogate father to so many young men. Pop is killed in the same episode. A few episodes later, at Pop's funeral in "Just to Get a Rep", his son is the first person we see speaking, mentioning how he knew where his father was, and he wanted to reach out to him, even tell him about his grandchild, but he never did.
    • In an example outside the series, Charles Bradley announced he had stomach cancer just four days after the show's release, where he had a cameo performing at Cottonmouth's club, at the same time that Ron Cephas Jones (Bobby Fish) was also playing someone with the disease on This Is Us, and he died just a few days short of the first season's one-year anniversary.
      • This got worse when Reg E. Cathey played Luke's father in Season 2, and just barely managed to finish filming the role before his death from lung cancer.
    • After seeing The Defenders, Misty got a grand total of one more year with that arm after Claire saved it, and she lost it because she was trying to save Claire from Bakuto.
    • After watching The Defenders, try watching Candace's death knowing that her brothers are going into service with the Hand, and just like Candace got killed for snitching, Cole will also be killed for snitching to Luke.
    • Many of James Lucas' scenes have a heavy weight of mortality to them: he claims he's only dying "a day at a time like everyone else," Claire worries about Luke missing his chance to reconcile with his father like she did, they finally reunite in their mourning of Luke's mother, and James becomes one of Bushmaster's targets. All from an actor who passed away very shortly after he finished filming the role.
    • In episode seven of season two, Misty sarcastically asks Luke if he plans to take over Harlem to fight crime. This is what Luke decides to do in the season 2 finale.
    • Mariah going berserk on Cottonmouth and beating him to death was already disturbing as it was, but season 2's reveal of Tilda's parentage adds several more layers of depth to it.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In Star Trek: First Contact, Alfre Woodard stopped Picard from bludgeoning a dead Borg, saying, "I think you got him!" in one of the most memetic moments of the whole movie. Cut to twenty years later, and she's repeatedly beating Cottonmouth to death with a mike stand. Almost as if they're daring people on the internet to cut the two together.
    • It's incredibly jarring how just a few months after the first season's release, Alfre Woodard was on Netflix again as the absurd hypochondriac Aunt Josephine in A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017).
    • The DJ at Cottonmouth's club in "Moment of Truth" is D-Nice (tragically he is not a white girl).
    • With the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, this series is now no longer the last time Mahershala Ali played a Marvel villain who was killed by another villain.
    • Mahershala Ali ended up getting the last laugh over Alfre Woodard when she moved to the MCU movies as a minor single scene character, while he became Blade!
    • Mahershala Ali voiced Titan in Invincible who can best be described as an evil version of Luke Cage, being a black man with nigh invulnerable skin who cares for his community.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: Luke flatlining in the closing moments of episode 9. They're seen standing alert on the loading screen for the next episode.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Hernán "Shades" Alvarez is a charismatic criminal of Harlem who during his time at Seagate Penitentiary ran a prison fight ring along with Comanche and a corrupt warden. Upon returning to Harlem, he became the Hyper-Competent Sidekick of the Stokes family, the most powerful crime family in Harlem, brokering deals for the family to gain high tech weaponry. Despite his loyalties, he has no problems turning against his masters when they turn against him, such as when he planned to kill Cottonmouth only to find Mariah Dillard committing the act which Shades helped her coverup by framing Luke Cage and Diamondback for the deed, killing any witnesses in the scenes, and successfully sending Luke back to prison. During that time Shades becomes enamored with Mariah helping her become the leader of her crime family with him as her lover, only to become horrified of her decision to massacre an entire restaurant full of innocents, so much so that he orchestrates her entire downfall by becoming an informant for the police. Always maintaining his cool and suave demeanor, Shades even accepts his final defeat with grace.
  • Minority Show Ghetto: Averted. The show has a black lead and an almost entirely black or Latino cast, and it went on to become the fifth most-watched original show in Netflix's history, beating out Jessica Jones (2015) and a number of other Netflix originals.
  • Misblamed: The infamously unpopular storytelling decision in season 1 to kill off Cottonmouth halfway through the season is sometimes seen as a point of contention against showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker. In reality, Mahershala Ali had only agreed to play Cottonmouth if he wouldn't have to commit to a full series, because he was also busy filming several other movies, so the plan right from the get-go was to have him only appear in six episodes.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Mariah's killing of Cottonmouth, while brutal, was in retaliation for a very ugly and uncalled-for remark. The list of villains who haven't killed for less can be counted on one hand, and it's questionable whether the act was intentional. But personally ordering the completely innocent Candace's assassination showed that she had inherited the role Mama Mabel had held years ago.
    • Mariah pretty much crosses the line with everyone in season 2 after she orders a restaurant full of innocent people killed and personally kills Anansi by burning him alive. Even Shades is completely taken aback by the brutality and that's when the heroes and other villains come to the realization that she needs to be stopped at all costs.
  • Narm:
    • Luke Cage takes out a group of Cottonmouth's thugs trying to extort money from an elderly couple who own a Chinese restaurant. He seems to inflict an unneeded amount of damage on the restaurant himself by smashing one guy through a window and throwing another into a mirror, shattering it. This is contrasted in season 2, when Luke does something similar while beating up Cockroach, and this is treated as going dangerously overboard.
    • Diamondback's plan to frame Luke Cage (concealing his face with a hoodie, then killing a cop by punching him with a super-powered glove) is weird enough, but the way he runs away yelling "I'M LUKE CAGE!" really pushes it over the top into silliness. You almost expect him to say "bitch" at the end.
    • Diamondback's powered gloves and bright green super suit, which looks like something out a low-budget superhero show from a past decade.
    • Luke and Diamondback's entire final showdown. It's set up very similarly to a cell-phone filmed scuffle between two high-schoolers, complete with the spectators telling Luke that he can't let Diamondback talk shit about his mother. You almost expect to see "Worldstar Hip-Hop" scroll across the screen.
    • Mariah's declaration that the fight between Luke and Diamondback is a "battle for Harlem's soul" could count, too - especially when the fight between Luke and Diamondback is profoundly more personal than Luke and Cottonmouth's rivalry.
    • In episode 12 of season 1, one of the cops in the armored truck saying that a certain racial attitude has been around "since Eve bit the apple." It's a very awkward wording, especially if you were expecting him to say something more allegorically easy like "since Iron Man showed up."
    • Luke being far rougher than he needs to be with a pair of cops who try to arrest him, just to contrive a reason for the public to turn against him. It gets funnier in the season finale when he gets that charge dropped just by explaining the "context" for it, when there really isn't any more to reveal than the video makes clear.
    • Three episodes in a row end on a cliffhanger of Luke's apparent death. Even if you could somehow buy that it could happen, the sheer repetition makes it impossible to take seriously.
    • Luke often gives long, out-of-nowhere lectures on Harlem's history and culture.
    • Luke stopping a convenience store robbery and randomly running into Method Man feels like it's from a completely different show than the gritty drama Luke Cage usually is. Though his rap song about Luke, "Bulletproof Love", is a very catchy song, which makes up for it.
    • Diamondback introducing himself as "the angel of death" in the flattest, most offhand line delivery imaginable.
    • Season 2 tries way too hard to recapture the magic of that shot where Cottonmouth appears to be wearing the crown in the poster behind him, with so many shots contriving the same effect for Mariah and Shades with the Basquiat that it quickly loses all meaning and is clearly just being done for the hell of it.
    • Absolutely every time the name "Mariah Dillard" is said in front of Bushmaster, he interjects or responds with "Stokes. Mariah Stokes." with exactly the same delivery. The first few times, it's very informative about his character motivation and paints a picture of his obsession with the past. By the fifteenth time, it will probably illicit groans from the audience, who get it already!
    • The scene with Mariah in the prison corridor. The guard getting suddenly killed with a prison shiv? Scary and shocking. Her killers getting suddenly killed with prison shivs? Now it's starting to feel a little silly. Mariah having a talk with the killers' boss, and then suddenly killing her with a prison shiv? Okay, at this point it officially feels like parody.
    • The incredibly on-the-nose Shout-Out to the final shot of The Godfather in the Season 2 finale, just in case you didn't get the implications of the scene before then.
  • Narm Charm:
    • Diamondback's supersuit in the last episode might be this. If you're invested enough in both his deliriously Ax-Crazy persona and comic book lore, it can be kinda cool seeing a nice, comics-accurate costume, even if it does look a tad cheesy. Plus, the fact that it comes from Hammer Industries may make it an invoked case.
    • There's a lot of references to The Bible, when putting aside half of Diamondback's dialogue with religious references to the point that it's a tad ridiculous. However, it starts to make a lot more sense when Luke and Diamondback's pasts are tied to the same man who happens to be their father, and a preacher, and with the themes of betrayal, salvation and redemption.
    • Mariah Dillard's screams of "I DIDN'T WANT IT!" in response to Cornell Stokes as she beats him to death. The delivery is highly overacted, but it makes sense for the character and circumstances that she would lose composure, given that Cornell had been taunting her regarding her being raped by Uncle Pete, and it's revealed in season 2 that she ended up giving birth to Tilda as a result of this.
    • Near the end of season 2, Tilda sits down at Cornell's keyboard and instantly breaks into song (with incredibly on the nose lyrics) for no particular reason. It's a weird moment, but Gabrielle Dennis puts so much soul into her performance she manages to sell it.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • This show pairs Luke Cage and Claire Temple as a couple. More casual fans might think this was a case of doing something new with the mythos. In the comics, Claire was in an on-and-off relationship with Luke for years before he dated, then married Jessica Jones.
    • Although much was made of this show's diverse production crew being a first for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it has a historical precedent: the African-American Billy Graham worked on every issue of the original '70s run. He was initially the inker, but after his drawing skills improved he was promoted to main artist. And due to the "Marvel Method" of the artist being co-plotter, he had a significant hand in shaping the stories as well.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: ShadyMariah for Mariah and Shades. Taken Up to Eleven when Theo Rossi was using this hashtag pretty heavily during season 2's promotional tour.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Many viewers loved Cottonmouth as a character, especially thanks to Mahershala Ali's brilliant performance and were not pleased to see him get killed by Mariah halfway through the season and hastily replaced by Diamondback as the true Big Bad. For most, Bushmaster proved a worthy successor in season 2.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: The rehabilitation that The Defenders started on Danny Rand continues during his guest appearance in Season 2, with him having greatly matured and providing solid assistance to Luke without ever overshadowing him, plus some more puncturing of his pretentious philosophical talk which he's much more good-natured about. This gives Danny something to build on for Iron Fist season 2, which was released two and a half months after Luke Cage season 2.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • There are lots of subtle hints towards Stephanie's role as Bushmaster's mole before it's revealed to the audience. For one, her first scene, with her being personally interviewed by Mariah for a waitress position, is immediately followed by Bushmaster's first scene. Plus, Mariah makes a mention of Stephanie being "one way in Lakeville, and another on Flatbush," which means she's from Crown Heights, the area of Brooklyn where Gwen's is located.
    • Mariah's unnecessary hostility towards Comanche in Season 2 makes more sense when you realize that Comanche is in love with Shades.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Bushmaster in season 2 has a huge Cool factor, a sympathetic backstory, genuinely cares about his friends and relatives, and his entire motivation is a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against one of the most despicable characters in the show. You'd be forgiven for sympathizing with him when he goes against Mariah Dillard.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat:
    • The fact that Claire Temple started a relationship with Luke Cage has an interesting effect to fans of the Fan-Preferred Couple Matt/Claire from Daredevil.
    • Luke/Misty vs the inevitable Danny/Misty.
    • Luke/Claire vs Luke/Jessica. On one hand Jessica is Luke's wife in the comics, so them getting hitched in the MCU is seen by some as a Foregone Conclusion, but their relationship hasn't progressed to that point yet and it's unclear if it ever will, since there's baggage between the two of them that isn't present in the comics, and of course there's the fact that much of the MCU is different from the comics, personal relationships included. Not to mention that Jessica hooked up with Oscar in season 2 of her show.
  • Shocking Moments:
    • Cottonmouth deciding to deal personally with Luke Cage once he figures out where he lives? Understandable. Him doing so using a rocket-propelled grenade? Holy crap!
    • When Luke is getting ready to take the money stored in the Crispus Attucks Complex, we're already expecting some great things. Then "Bring Da Ruckus" starts playing as Luke tears the door off of an SUV and puts it to good use.
    • Mariah killing Cottonmouth came as quite a big shock, with her kicking him out of the window then proceeding to beat him to death.
    • Bushmaster's reveal to Luke of his superpowers.
  • Signature Scene: Luke plowing his way through numerous henchmen to rob Crispus Attucks with "Bring Da Ruckus" blasting on the soundtrack has gotten quite a bit of press for summing up everything great about the show. And the crew seems to have known full well they had something special here, as the first teaser was made up almost entirely of bits from this scene.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • The silver spray paint used to color Ben Donovan's widow's peak is visible on Danny Johnson's scalp when he visits Mariah in jail.
    • Mariah's burning of Anansi features some extremely questionable CGI.
  • Squick: The slow motion close-up of Amos's hand shattering when he punches Luke in the face. Same for in season 2 when this happens to one of Bushmaster's henchwomen who fights Luke with a chain.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Scarfe is a Dirty Cop, but when he makes remarks in episode 3 about why he celebrates a vigilante helping cops out, after years of investigation with no payoff, his argument makes a lot of sense. Especially when corruption is Inherent in the System and Differently Powered Individuals exist everywhere. It helps that there were no deaths, so even if he wasn't trained like Misty complained, he was able to go in a place full of armed gangsters without any real danger. Sure, he's corrupt, and he basically advocates giving up and Holding Out for a Hero, but until they find a secret Muggle Power, it's not like they can do anything about it.
    • Another instance occurs in the season 1 finale with Misty. Inspector Ridley slams her for not trusting her fellow officers enough to protect Candace, and the show seems to paint Misty's poor judgement as the reason Mariah goes free. However, this seems to ignore the fact that this was the same police department recently revealed to be mired with Dirty Cops, one of whom was Misty's own partner. Coupled on with the fact that it's only been a matter of months since it was uncovered that large parts of the 15th Precinct were on Wilson Fisk's payroll, it's not hard to see why Misty would've had reservations trusting her colleagues.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Many feel Cottonmouth's early death affected the rest of the first season.
    • Scarfe's Adaptational Villainy could have been more explored and was great in every scene he was in. Season 2 had him reappear in a few flashbacks that added a little more depth to his character, while also using the season to show the fallout of his corrupt activities.
    • Many felt Claire was wasted in season 2, with her breaking up with Luke and disappearing from the show after the third episode. Reportedly, Rosario Dawson was busy with her recurring role on Jane the Virgin. She revealed a bit later that she'd grown very tired of the role, and never appeared again in the few remaining seasons of the MCU Netflix shows.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: When Cornell expresses frustration at finding ways to kill Luke, Mariah runs a list of less direct ways to deal with him, such as drowning him, suffocating him, or harming his loved ones. Cornell is killed before he can think of a way to implement these ideas and Diamondback ends up using Judas Bullets to deal with Luke more directly. Season 2 does show some criminals who try these alternate methods on Luke, although they're still unsuccessful: Arturo Rey tries to blow up Luke in one of his semi trucks (which only leaves Luke with a badly charred hoodie), Bushmaster tries paralyzing him before pushing him in the water (Luke recovers from the paralysis in time to swim to shore), and one of Rosalie Carbone's henchmen briefly tries to suffocate him with a bag, but Luke immediately overpowers the henchman).
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: Notable for being the first Netflix Marvel series to avert this. Luke spends the first half of season one utterly gutting Cottonmouth's criminal operations, and the latter's victories ultimately prove ineffectual and fleeting before he's ultimately killed by Episode 7. When Diamondback ultimately steps up to the plate and proves a real threat to Luke, the odds aren't stacked against him nearly as badly as Wilson Fisk or Kilgrave. Which makes the Sudden Downer Ending of Candace's death hit that much harder. Even then, Bobby Fish is able to find the files proving Luke's innocence, and he makes his introduction in The Defenders being released from prison thanks to Foggy Nelson's lawyering.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: For the first four episodes of season 2, the CGI work done to digitally erase Simone Missick's right arm is entirely convincing, and the crew clearly knew it as before Misty gets the robot arm, they seem to be constantly looking for ways to show it off.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • When henchmen empty their guns at Luke, bullets bounce off of him. What do they do? Light him up like the Fourth of July. And it takes a while for gangsters to spread the word or even warn Cottonmouth about the bulletproof issue. Case in point: when Luke turns up at Harlem's Paradise, right after surviving a building falling on him, and has a fight on the floor with some of Cottonmouth's henchmen, some of whom try using guns to shoot him.
      Luke: It's called deductive reasoning. If a rocket launcher couldn't stop me, what's a little pea shooter gonna do?
      • For season 2, an explanation is given for why gangbangers continue to try shooting Luke when they know it won't work. The season opens with Luke storming a drug lab making Arturo Rey's "Luke Cage" branded heroin. The men there point guns at Luke, who says, "Really, guys?" One of the thugs replies, "We gotta know we tried, man!" suggesting that they believe it to be a badge of honor to be beaten up by Luke. At the end of season 2, when Rosalie Carbone's head of security tries shooting him, Luke quips "People always want to see if the myth is true."
    • Zip trying too hard to play the tough guy ends up with him trying to strangle Shades while his henchmen stand by and do nothing, only for Shades to take one of their guns, kill the two muscle, then kill Zip himself after getting a confession out of him.
    • Tone happily telling his violent and impulsive boss that he disobeyed direct orders to make sure that Chico exited Pop's Barber Shop before shooting, excitedly mentioning how he lit the place up rather than just shoot his target, not to mention admitting that he killed Pop, the much beloved cornerstone of the community and someone that Cottonmouth respected due to their past friendship. After that, it was really only a matter of how badly this was going to end for him, not if or when.
    • When Amos first meets Luke, he shatters his wrist punching him. Fastforward a few episodes and Amos is one of Cottonmouth's men who is there to corner Luke when he comes to Harlem's Paradise to confront Cottonmouth. Amos has his entire right arm wrapped in a cast, knows full well what would happen if he punched Luke again, but still tries to fight him anyway.
    • Misty doesn't lock her phone with a password. Beyond that, she apparently uses the real names of her informants when she stores contacts. So, when her phone is stolen by Shades in the ruckus of the fight between Luke and Diamondback, he has a direct line to Candace and can call her out of hiding to get killed.
    • Diamondback's plan to frame Luke hinges a lot on the police really hating Luke. While killing a cop with a single punch screaming "I'M LUKE CAGE!" might pass if the cops go on the assumption Luke had snapped, he then improvises a hostage takeover with a lot of contradicting statements from the witnesses, which causes Shades and Mariah to turn against him, and eventually, he just starts brawling with Luke in the streets.
    • Piranha just ups and leaves the church just so that he can call his mom and tries to leave town. Predictably, Bushmaster and his men capture and kill him.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: Some aspects of the show, such as Luke's choice in attire, are very much political, but others aren't, as with Luke's Implacable Man moment on the bad guys once he starts doing his thing. In an interview, the executive producer acknowledged that politics can certainly be read into the scene, and would be extremely relevant, but the scene drew primarily from The Terminator.
    Cheo Hodari Coker: Luke, being bulletproof and walking through [redacted for spoilers] was really more influenced by Arnold Schwarzenegger's invading the police station in Terminator. And we shot it that way. But when you see the images of a bulletproof black man in a hoodie walking forward... it just has like the symbolic meaning that I don't think we even anticipated.

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